View of Sarajevo at sunset

Bosnia and Herzegovina A country in search of an identity

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a successor state of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The population paid a high price for their country’s independence. Shortly after the referendum held in March 1992, in which more than 60 per cent of voters opted for independence, a war broke out that lasted until 1995.

It was only the intervention of the UN and NATO that put an end to hostilities. In November 1995, the warring factions agreed to accept the Dayton Peace Agreement, which was drawn up with the help of the European Union and the US. The Peace Agreement also laid down the constitution for the country.

Since that time, Bosnia and Herzegovina has consisted of two autonomous parts, or entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Republika Srpska (RS). The border region around the town of Brčko was accorded special status as a separate district. The parts of the country share a common central government, but it has only very limited powers.

Since the summer of 2021, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, has been increasingly pushing for withdrawal from state institutions and thus for the secession of the Republika Srpska.

Germany’s relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina

Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina have a long history of close political, economic and cultural ties. Germany is one of the largest bilateral donors to Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most important foreign policy partners and supporters of the Balkan country within the European Union. Its close cooperation with Germany has helped Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote the country’s economic and social reform processes and advance EU rapprochement. On 1 June 2015, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU entered into force. On 15 February 2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina officially applied for accession to the EU.

Transformation partners

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a transformation partner of German development cooperation. Through this form of partnership the Federal Republic of Germany channels special support for political and economic transformation in the EU neighbourhood.

Germany’s development cooperation activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina focus on sustainable economic development and on the promotion of renewables and energy efficiency.

As a consequence of current developments and divisive actions by the Bosnian Serb leadership, the BMZ is suspending the preparation of four infrastructure measures worth 105 million euros in the Republic of Srpska until all secessionist efforts are rescinded.

A sign warning of a landmine. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 25 years after the end of the civil war, there are still around a thousand square kilometres of minefields.

Political situation A new start for democracy in a difficult context Internal link

The greatest challenge for the country is how to create an environment in which people can live together peacefully, regardless of their ethnic background or religion.

A saleswoman in a snack bar

Social situation Inequality of opportunity for women and Roma Internal link

The state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided strictly along ethnic lines. Jurisdiction, education and the media primarily focus on their own ethnic groups; there is no overarching shared national identity. This leads to discrimination and exclusion.

A bank in thetown of Sanski Most

Economic situation A difficult investment environment Internal link

During the war, many industrial plants and state-run enterprises were destroyed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country's economy was brought to its knees. Up until today, Bosnia and Herzegovina's national economy is still one of the weakest in Europe.

German development cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina

The government negotiations had originally been planned for November 2018 and had to be cancelled due to elections in the country and the formation of a new government, which took until the end of 2019. Later they had to be postponed again as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

In 2021, unscheduled working talks were held to prepare for the intergovernmental negotiations with pledges of 49.5 million euros for, among other things, support in dealing with the Corona crisis and adaptation to climate change. From 2022 onwards, intergovernmental negotiations will then take place in the scheduled two-year cycle.

In its development cooperation activities with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany focuses on energy and sustainable economic development.

In April 2022, as a consequence of current developments and divisive actions by the Bosnian Serb leadership, development minister Svenja Schulze announced the suspension of the preparation of four infrastructure measures amounting to 105 million euros in the Republic of Srpska until all secessionist aspirations are withdrawn.

According to the new list of areas of German development cooperation, these priorities fall under the following core areas:

  • Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy
  • Training and sustainable growth for decent jobs
The river Vrbas

Core area “Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy” Stable and sustainable energy supply Internal link

Functioning energy supply systems are key to stable economic and financial development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Employee at the automotive supplier Veritas in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among other things, wiring for Audi and VW is produced here.

Core area “Training and sustainable growth for decent jobs” Increasing competitiveness, promoting local development Internal link

In order to promote a social market economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the German government is supporting local and regional private-sector development and self-government. As part of these efforts, Germany continues to provide advice to the regional development agencies.